I enjoy reading some of the book blogs. I use them in the same way as reviews in papers, magazines or even on TV, to guide me towards authors and books I might otherwise not have heard of. Yes, we have a local branch of Waterstones, but there are so many interesting books out there which don't get into their special promotions or even onto their shelves, especially those published by the small publishing houses.
Yet parts of the literary establishment seems to feel threatened by ordinary people who blog about books, as evidenced by this recent missive from Persephone books publisher Nicola Beauman (what you read there is apparently an edited version of the original). There are comments about this on several book blogs...take a look at this post on Eve's Alexandria for links to some other views. Whilst you are there, just read the intellectual quality of the book reviews on that particular blog.
Not everyone wants to just read dry, inaccessable reviews in a broadsheet newspaper, many of which are, in any event, often written by someone with a connection to the author or publishing house. Why can't 'ordinary' bloggers also have an outlet for their opinions? After all, most readers are discerning enough to just use reviews as a starting point in deciding whether to buy a book or not. Just as we do when looking at readers reviews on Amazon, or recommendations attached to the shelves in a book store.
I suspect that book blogs do generate quite a few sales and, in most cases, welcome publicity. I know that in the last year I have ordered a number of books, often directly from a small publisher, which I would never have heard of if it wasn't for book bloggers such as Dovegreyreader. Funnily enough, not one of those was published by Persephone books.